Mark Fell investigates nanostructures and dancing particles. A visual reveals some of those Brownian Motion-produced forms. Photo courtesy Mark Fell.

Nanomusic: Mark Fell Turns to Neuroscience and High-Power Microscopes for Particle Music

Making new sounds means doing more than just making new sounds. Artist/composer Mark Fell (also known as half of SND) dives directly into the thorny question of form. And when he looks for new forms, he literally looks. The visually-trained artist speaks about making “non-representational” music in the same way an abstract artist might. (No surprise that arresting imagery invariably accompanies his work.) And in his latest creation, he looks even further, collaborating with a neuroscientist to peer at tiny particles through a high-power optical microscope. The result is alien music, constructed from the dance of those nanostructures. The work …

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In Bad Hotel, Addictive iOS Game, Composing Music to Tapped Interactions [Behind the Scenes]

What if a game made you both player and remixer/composer? What if that music plugged into your gameplay brain just like the interactive elements? This week, we get another try at just that – and find out how the whole thing works behind the scenes, with free software you can use, too. If you’re like me, you’ve loved the soaring, gaslight-style music soundtrack, as it makes its sweep across a film, swelling at just the right moments. Or you’ve closed your eyes and enjoyed the frozen narrative of a great score or great record as it washes over you. But …

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Pugs Luv Beats Marries Music, Gaming on iOS: How it Was Made, How Free libpd Music Tool Helped

The iPad becomes a canvas for a game with an atypically-musical, interactive sound score. All images courtesy the developers. Photos by whatkristensaw. Truly generative musical scores in games have been few and far between, and “music games” has traditionally meant arcade-style rhythm games in which you repeat phrases or whole songs as accurately as possible. Pugs Luv Beats breaks those molds. Part of a vanguard of new gaming creations that generate dynamic music on the fly, it marries grid-based sequencing and resource-gathering gaming, as music making and gameplay blur together. The interactively-produced music could itself become a new way of …

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Entire Musical Compositions Made from Just One Line of Code are Glitchy but Musical

You know you’re in for something different with an article that contains this line: “as 256 bytes is becoming the new 4K, there has been ever more need to play decent music in the 256-byte size class. ” In just a single line of code, Finnish artist and coder countercomplex, working with other contributors, is creating “bitwise creations in a pre-apocalyptic world.” What’s stunning is to listen to the results, even if you have trouble following the code – the results are complex and organic, glitchy but with compositional direction, as though the machine itself had learned to compose in …

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An Album That Can Be Heard Only in One Location, in Interactive Ode to Washington, D.C.

“You had to be there.” Live performance has always been dictated by being present in a particular place, at a particular time. Now, the same is true of an interactive album produced by brothers Hays and Ryan Holladay, aka Bluebrain. Both a two-man band and a two-man development team, there’s no clear dividing line between “coder” and “musician” for the artists on this project. But the only way to hear the work is to physically go to Washington, D.C.’s National Mall, and begin walking around. The satellites that populate the GPS received in your smartphone, currently on iOS but with …

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Connect the Bots: Black Allegheny, An Entire Album Made by Algorithmic Swarms

Swarm Music Album Black Allegheny from Evan Merz on Vimeo. We’ve heard albums made by singular compositional minds and by bands. What would an album sound like if composed by swarm intelligence, by computer evolutionary models of individual agents or bots? That’s the question asked by composer Evan Merz in his new, full-length album “Black Allegheny.” (At top: the composer explains in a video.) Western musical and creative tradition is steeped in linearity, from the forward motion of the music staff to the mythos of Aristotle’s Poetics. So, maybe it’s little wonder that generative music – music that may not …

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Reactive Music of the Future: RjDj on iPad, Your Computer, Beyond

For many musical artists, the frontier of reactive, interactive music has been a long time coming. RjDj, an app which we first saw as a series of interactive musical scenes on the iPhone, is now being expanded by its developers into a mini-ecosystem of interactive music tools for creation and distribution. I don’t think it’s likely to work for everyone – some artists may have their own ideas about how to distribute such work, or may take this concept in different directions for performance. But it’s nothing if not stimulating to watch. Here’s the basic formula: 1. Authoring: The RJC1000 …

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The Generative iPhone-iPod Touch: RjDj Updates, Albums, Free Downloads

Dreaming of a future in which music, instead of just being rendered audio files, arrives in fully generative, interactive form? Albums might “listen” to the world around you, and listeners could record their own alternate versions of music and share with others. RjDj, the generative mobile music platform for Apple devices, realizes that future right now, instead of at some nebulous time in the future. In addition to the iPhone, you can make use of a second-generation iPod to use it. (You’ll need a headset with a mic; I have one by Griffin I’m testing.) And the RjDj folks have …

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Immersive Music: Revo:oveR Installation, Lightbent Synth, Max + Unity

As an addendum to the last story, Ivica Ico Bukvic sends along an example of the [myu] Max/MSP + Unity game engine combination in action. Here’s the surprise: Unity isn’t generating visuals. Instead, Unity simulates ripples created by movement in the space, and builds physical models that are sonified and spatialized by Max/MSP. Speaking of work involving art museums and the combination of Max and Unity, VJ Anomolee notes in comments his own work with the pairing. Lightbent Synth is an in-progress piece with alternative controllers and sensors that produces sound with a novel visual representation (sound’s very quiet in …

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Free Nodal Generative Sequencer: Now on Windows, Too; Live Improvisation Video

Sequencers by definition traditionally lock musical patterns into repetitive, unchanging blocks of time. But a new generation of generative sequencers can instead form organic patterns that change and transform. Nodal is a totally free-as-in-beer (closed-source) sequencer for composing music. (A license is needed for commercial use.) As the name implies, it uses a matrix of nodes to represent musical structure. The best way to understand what that means exactly is to check out the examples and give the app a shot, but is good fun – and capable of creating some lovely, unusual musical textures. The good news now is …

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